The call to shift to renewable energy is part of a bigger plan to transition to a low carbon economy. It also aligns with undertakings given by South Africa’s Government as a signatory to the Paris Agreement that would allow for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Nationally, there is a commitment of systematic reduction towards 17,800 MW renewable energy generated by 2030, and a further reduction to 13,225 MW renewable energy generated by 2025. Importantly, it is reported that for each kilowatt hour of renewable energy that displaces fossil fuels in the national grid, 1.2 litres of water will be saved, allowing the Province to achieve both greenhouse gas emission and water demand reduction targets.
Globally, the case for the Green, renewable or Clean Economy has been made abundantly clear. Renewable energy is the only electricity generation technology whose price has decreased dramatically, with solar PV module prices falling by 80% during the past five years, while wind turbines have become 30% less expensive. South Africa’s wind resources are regarded as amongst the top five in the world and could sustain 25% of our grid’s capacity. Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2020 the price of wind and solar PV will be at least R0-50/kwh, unlike Eskom’s Medupi power station, which - once completed - will charge close to R1-10/kwh.
KwaZulu-Natal is an energy-hungry province and consumes in excess of 6 700 MW of electricity and to maintain predicted economic growth rates of between 6% and 7%, the province requires between 400MW and 470MW more electricity every year. As part of the transition towards a low carbon economy, there is a need to consider alternative energy options at the district, provincial and industrial level. The province’s renewable energy sector incorporates a host of sustainable solutions and includes the installation and supply of solar water heaters and heat pumps, solar energy, biomass, biogas, bio-fuels, wind, hydro, waste to energy, industrial symbiosis and also the circular economy and energy efficiency measures.